Life with Fast Boy

The Challenges of Raising Our ADHD Son


Posted by One Tired Mama on August 10, 2007

Not sure where to start with this one, I guess I’ll start at the beginning….

A couple of weeks ago, The Boss Man had left our shed unlocked.  I knew Fast Boy had been in there and reminded my husband quite harshly about how much trouble could come from an unlocked shed.  I was right.  The Boss Man promptly locked the shed and kept it locked from then on, but what we didn’t know was that Fast Boy and Princess had hid their previous finds.

When Fast Boy entered our house yesterday afternoon I was immediately reminded of the chainsaw oil smell from a few weeks ago.  This was a little different.  This was Tiki Torch fuel.  And it covered the lower half of my son.  He had taken the container out of its hiding spot under the shed and punctured  a hole in it to open it when he couldn’t figure out the safety lid.  He said that he bit it open with his teeth.

He had poured the fuel on the neighbor’s grass and bushes. (Different neighbor from the water slide incident.)  What I also found at the scene of the crime was a lighter that he had stolen from the neighbors porch.  I shudder thinking about what could have happened if he had actually been able to light it.

I was at my computer working just like the last time.  It wasn’t more than 30 minutes.  I thought they were just in the back yard playing.  Just like the last time.  I try to reassure myself that it isn’t my fault, that I can’t be on top of them 24/7, but when stuff like this happens I am reminded that I really need to be. 


3 Responses to “Scared…”

  1. Douglas said

    I have AD/HD and when I was young, I had a thing for breaking windows. Loved the tinkling sound. One day when I was five I went next door to the neighbors and shattered every tiny window in their garage door. I still remember the sound. My mum was furious and embarrassed and she made me apologize, I also had cleaning chores and I went without treats. I learned my lesson and never shattered windows again.

    I’m going to assume you know how to raise your child and are just venting here a bit, but I will share some advice anyway and you can take it or leave it.

    Your job is to find a way to get through your boy’s lack of impulse control and teach a lesson. Help him learn about the danger of what he is doing. My uncle used to be dangerously fascinated with lighting fires, so my grandparents assigned him the job of burning trash (people used to do that in the 40’s and 50’s. Still do it in Japan). Turned it into drudgery and got the bug out of his system all at the same time. You may have to find a way to channel that fascination with fire into something more constructive. For example, you could allow him to help Dad light the grill on Sunday. Keep the accelerants and lighters in a locked box and up high (inconvenient but safe). Set behavior goals for him to meet (depending on his age you may have to make these short term goals) and allow him to help if he meets the goals. If he doesn’t, he can’t help no matter how disappointed he is. Have Dad loudly describe how much fun he is having lighting the stupid fire to drive the point home. This sort of thing has helped my more stubborn AD/HD kids.

    Of course, being kids once they stop one bad behavior they begin a new one. How fun. 🙂

    But don’t blame yourself. Kids in general wait for parents to be busy before raising cain. AD/HD kids tend to do it at a faster rate. Don’t be afraid of implementing punishments that might seem draconian to you. The more boring the better the result with AD/HD kids. They HATE being bored. It is your finest weapon against their aberrant behavior. Also, you could plan an activity you know he wants to do and exclude him from it if he misbehaves. That sort of thing might seem mean to others but really gets through the fog of the AD/HD mind without resorting to spankings or long scolding sessions which are not affective and damage self-esteem.

    Lastly, bribery works. AD/HD kids have a hard time staying focused on long term goals and have a hard time saying “no” to impulses. Nothing has motivated my girls more than having a picture of them holding something they want us to buy for them up on the fridge with a row of check boxes underneath they can tick off each day working towards their goal. This is what my wife and I call bringing out the big guns. We don’t like bribery per se, but will use it if the behavior is one that is extremely anti-social, like hitting sisters, temper tantrums, etc. We’ll take a trip to the store, photograph our child holding the coveted object, leave the object at the store, and print out a chart of sorts with that picture for them to mark their progress. Hasn’t failed us yet.

    Good luck. Being curious is a good thing. Just help him live through childhood so he can utilize that as a job skill as an adult. 😉

    Douglas Cootey
    The Splintered Mind

  2. AngelNicki said

    Probably ever kid has a time that he got caught playing with fire! Your little dude’s ADHD probably makes the risk scarier because he could impulsively do something risky that most kids would be afraid to do… but you really CAN’T be on top of everything all the time! My nephew and his across-the-street neighbor set my sister’s garage on fire once. The fire was stopped before it actually burned much of the garage, but it was still scary! All you can do is keep drilling it into their heads, “You’re so lucky nothing bad happened THIS time! You are NEVER to touch lighters, fluid, etc!)
    Also… when I was a kid, we had these “Officer Ugh” stickers my mom pasted onto bottles of anything poison, to remind my brother and I not to touch those things… because even typical kids are curious! Maybe you could make stickers like that and teach the kids that whenever they see a sticker like that on something, they are not to touch it!

  3. Sarah said

    I just wanted to respond to something Douglas mentioned – bribery. I don’t believe he is using bribery. It was once explained to me that the difference between bribery and rewards is that bribes are given before the behaviour, and rewards are given after. For example, if you give your child a cookie on the way into the grocery store and make them promise they will behave, that’s bribery. And of course, it doesn’t work. Because once they’ve eaten the cookie, there’s no incentive left to behave.

    If, on the other hand, you promise them a cookie at the end of the shopping trip if they behave, and then follow through if they do behave (and make sure you DON’T give it to them if they don’t behave), that’s a reward. And IMO, those are okay, as long as it’s only one of the techniques in your toolbox and they don’t come to expect it every time 🙂

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